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tv   [untitled]    August 24, 2010 3:30am-4:00am PST

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2005, and the variance in 2007, and another--- and another gap between application and when you got the permit. can you explain why there were gaps? >> i can explain in general, but i cannot explain the second two years. the first part of it involved the retrofit of the project and how that would proceed. the second part involves the building within the building. you have a structure that needs to be preserved. you have bricks that need to be preserved, and you have the would it that needs to be preserved. that took a while to get that plan together. we changed architects at some point, and also to get the plants together. there was also an issue of making it earthquake safe. this will be a steel and concrete structure that will support the building that was originally built in 1908, and
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one of the big issues, i believe, had to do with the stairway egress. that occurred, like a mentioned before, it had to do with issues between dbi and the planning department. dbi believed it was required. planning did not. it was not resolved until 2008, that the code was modified it to say there was no stairway egress required. there was a lot of waiting time for the permit holder while awaiting instructions from city officials. and the ironic thing is the appellant actually helped find one of the preservation architects, interviewed him, and this preservation architect came up with 37 specific job orders,
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pages of job orders, that the permit holder is ready to do and ready to preserve this historic building, and he is ready to go. commissioner fung: and the gap in time? >> it has been very expensive. has been well worth the wait. commissioner garcia: i caught your first name, and when. i did not catch your last name? >> hung. the same as my dad. commissioner garcia: i am sorry. do you agree with the statement made by mr. bley that this hearing tonight hinges on a very narrow issue, and that is whether or not the c.u. remains
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valid? >> i don't, for the reasons mr. sanchez gave. commissioner garcia: i am not saying it is not valid, i am saying that it hinges on. >> i think it hinges on the work, the interaction between the permit holder in various city agencies during this time. the permit holder went through this process in good faith that the government says jump, he says how high, he did what he had to do, what was required of him. to go back and say you need another environmental review -- commissioner garcia: we're not asking that, it is the factors that would go towards what we would make a determination on as to whether the c.u. is now. i guess i am trying to lead you to not have people in the room say whatever they want to say, but this hearing tonight is not about whether the project is worthwhile. it is a very narrow legal issue,
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and i am only asking if you agree with that so i might direct the people in the room to understand that we my -- we might look at this, but that does not determine this. >> i completely agree, is one very narrow issue on a very big and complex project. commissioner garcia: thank you, sir. president peterson: we will move into public comment now. please raise your hand if you intend to speak tonight. anyone? ok, great. if the first speaker. like to step forward, please go ahead. >> good evening. i am the original project
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sponsor. my name is tom brown. i live in san francisco parade -- i live in san francisco. i have done historical preservation is. i flew in in support of mr. hung's project. i was a sponsor until 2005, when the planning commission approved recommendations of the planning department. yes, it took a number of years and an inordinate amount of effort from my resources as well as from the staff here. i still recognize some of the names from back then. with respect to the issue, which happens to be with this narrow scope, as you put it, when we
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first went to dbi, we went before we made application. back then, we had the opportunity to make a presentation to the dbi, a pre application meeting that you could have for about $150. it was said here are concept drawings, giving your best shot as far as what issues may come about. there were two issues, one was the front of the building had an historical artifact that may trigger ceqa. that was the first issue, which it did, and that was the reason why we came in. the second issue is the other issue, which deals with the ideal of the window of time, or lack of effort between, say, 2005 and 2007, that blank.
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commissioner fung: please go on. >> that was the conflict between dbi and planning and the second egress that had to wait until the code finally caught up, and that was 2008, and then we could proceed with the proper, cogent design. only 660 fare -- 650 square feet of the plot. imagine how many staircases it would take, how much. would take, and that was the main reason. commissioner fung: thank you very much. >> let's give everybody three minutes. >> howard wong, architect. i am standing here to support jason bley, the public for this issue. i first learned of jason because of his staunch advocacy for
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chinatown's architectural heritage and his unwavering protection of chinese-american heritage, something that is very lacking, unfortunately, it in our city. as an architect, working on many products for the city, i was always painfully aware of the need to maintain good progress and good standing in a timely manner, approvals and a timely manner. as far as i know, there were very unforgiving deadlines that often even my clients called me and a rush and said it isn't that permit expiring? i would say, yes, you are right, i will jump on it and make sure we get our proper paperwork and applications into the process. the application of laws should not be -- should not differ from
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one person to another. it should be applied evenly to all people. in this case, jason bley informed me a year-and-a-half ago that he was concerned about the project early on because of the approval process, but because the project was not a hearing to its approvals. that it was forming work that was outside the scope of the approval, that it did not have a preservation architect, that short cuts were being made. i think that was his primary interest at the time. later, he learned about other issues, like the conditional use permit. i think, looking at chinatown today, where it has deteriorated, and where it is going, unfortunately in the next years and the next decades, we
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have to be as commissioners and the citizens, as chinatown residents, we have to be very vigilant about how our buildings and architecture are protected and preserved for future generations most chinatowns in the united states have disappeared. this chinatown is very famous and very much needs to be preserved for future generations of chinese-americans. thank you. president peterson: thank you. is there another speaker? please step forward. >> hi, my name is sonya, and i am a student, and today i would like to speak for -- commissioner garcia: you can move the microphone. >> thank you, i like to
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represent the future generations that will come and live and work in this chinatown community, to express support for this project. like the appellant and other preservationists friends here, i have an appreciation for the architectural heritage and historical values of places like chinatown. the work is incomplete and meaningless if it does not benefit the people who briefed chinatown life. i can fairly and honestly say i am touched by the years of effort that mr. hung and his team have poured into this project, like complying with the code, which may be overdue, the time it took to comply with the code may be overdue, but i am very much anticipating the project's completion and addition to the chinatown urban fabric because i believe it to
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serve as a catalytic force and model in the area. this project is not just an excellent model for restoring integrity and the modern era, but also a breath of new life in the district, adding momentum in in the city's desire for better livable and uplifting spaces for people. this project has stayed true to the building's 100-plus and ongoing years of the legacy and its endurance. through these actions mr. hung has taken with esthetics and function and arousing the committee's energy and support, i am in support of this project, especially in its journey from the past to the present, and hopeful for the future possibilities this project brings. so please keep going. thank you. >> thank you. there any other public comment?
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ok, seeing no other public comment, we will move into or bottle. -- we will move into a bottle. -- into rebuttal. are you a member of the public? >> ok, my name is annie, and i am speaking for an architect who has written a letter about this project, and he is an architect who supports this project. i don't know if you would like to hear about this. if so, then nod your head. commissioner fung: you have three minutes. >> to whom it may concern, as an architect living in the city of san francisco, i fully understand the intricacies of navigating through the maze of
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rules and regulations involving working in such an historic fleet ridge place. -- historicallt rich place. history is part of working in the environment or you must balance the demands of creating an economically viable project as well as maintain the cultural significance of the building and its urban fabric. through reviewing the design and its many iterations, as well as all the mitigating measures that he has taken to work with the city to address the comments, i believe he has satisfied his commitment and providing a design which retains the original buildings cultural significance, as well as
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providing a sustainable design which will benefit the surrounding neighborhoods. this additional stop work order that has been initiated by jason bley for an additional eight months should not be allowed to place an additional burden to the neighborhood as well as to mr. hung. furthermore, through my many conversations with mr. hung, i believe he will be a great advocate for the chinatown district as well as for the curator of the site for many years to come. for the sake of this community, i strongly oppose the stop work order and believe this project should reap the zone -- should resume immediately, and he signs his name to this letter. he is an architect.
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thank you. >> thank you. is there any other public comment? >> good evening, commissioners. my name is judy. i am a teacher. i am very clad it to see mr. honung's project at 605 kearny street because it will keep old buildings and stronger and safer for other people, and also he will provide more jobs and
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residential areas. i am very glad to see the building going up. thank you. >> thank you. is there any other public comment? is there anyone else who is intending to speak? if there is, please step forward now. he could line up against a wall there. we appreciate it. -- you can line up against the wall there. we appreciate it. commissioner fung: please explain to them this is regarding the issue of appeal, not the merits of the project.
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>> ok. my name is linda lee. i have lived in san francisco 25 years. i am a teacher of chinese and dance. over the years, when i need supplies for my classes, i always go to chinatown. and over all these years, there have been many businesses, tourists that i've seen come to chinatown. and i think of chinatown as the
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jewel of san francisco. and with the recession, i don't want to see business is in san francisco, chinatown close one by one. and i don't want to see 605 kearny street boarded up with an ugly black cover in chinatown. and i support this project, thank you. >> thank you. is there any other public
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comment? ok, if there is no other public comment, go ahead. >> i hope it is possible to touch on everything that needs to be in these three minutes. i have elected to try and keep this all in a positive level, and i ask the commissioners' understanding of that in narrowly focusing on the matter of the expired conditional use. i am not simply nitpicking a minor thing. while there are a lot of people here who are friends and families of the project sponsor, i don't believe they are all aware of all the history. i don't wish to take this to a- level -- to a negative level.
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all cherished chinatown. there are different manners and ways to accomplish that. over here is a little bit of my archive on this project. there are very, very substantial issues, and i think it might asking this keeping this as the narrow conditional use expiration, in doing so because i want to be positive and want to follow the process through and be able to lay out those arguments. this project is not all aboveboard, as it may appear, and i will touch very quickly, just as an example, on the issue. someone creatively came up with the notice of special restrictions was somehow recorded outside of the three year timeframe. nonetheless, i hear on the overhead a letter miss and to --
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written to mr. hung referencing the n.s.r. and the fact it should be filed. if you go back through the project, the language and it is known as conditions of approval, and conditions of approval were given with the authorization from the planning commission. that language is not new. the formality of having recorded it in 2008, the recipient of the conditional use permit and recipient of other things is charged with a knowing and understanding what the terms are. i would also like to point out is practice and procedure in this city and the rest of the cities in california and throughout this country that if one wishes, going through the process, they may obtain certain rights and the process, which is what happened here, if they wished to preserve those, they need to protect themselves by going and applying to extend
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that conditional use permit. we can fancily try to say after the fact, because this objection came up, we can try to revive the dead, but we cannot. the permit is gone, and at this point, there needed to be going to the planning commission. i have been asking for due process since i brought this up the uriko. i did not get it. it is within the language of the of n.s.r. the mere fact that it was not in compliance was enough to bring it to the planning commission. i ask for that because i have substantive issues about deprived of it like to bring before the proper body, and that did not happen. the focus is on the expiration of the conditional use because all other avenues of trying to nicely address all of that did not work. again, i ask you to please
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uphold the law. the law is the same, regardless of any neighborhood. i also have many friends in the chinatown community and not marshal them, did not attempt to marshal them, because so far this has played out a very clear-cut legal level, and the expiration has happened to the permit, and i ask your understanding and having read all of this. this was not simple. even get the basics, the final thing to say, this is not a run- of-the-mill project for chinatown. in getting the conditional use permit to go above the height limitations, there were conditions put on the project. it should not require a six, seven, eight months of a private citizens time to advocate the law be adhered to. what is being done now is the most basic interpretation of the law, and there is a lot of evidence. in the end, i want to see 6
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stoddert 5 kearny street -- i want to see 6 under 5 kearny street restored, and i would like everybody to be happy in the process. commissioner garcia: your time has long expired. >> thank you, scott sanchez planned department. i appreciate the appellant's concern on this, and we would also like to keep this to the conditional use authorization and the overall entitlement window of the project. looking holistic play at the. that was submitted in 2001 with the application, it took several years to go to the planning commission. that was 2005. several years to get the variance decision approved. the following year, the notice of special restriction was recorded, 2008. that could have been recorded any time after the variance was granted in february, 2007. it seems it could have been
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recorded sooner, but it was not. it was recorded in early 2008, when the department approved the project. the department has worked with the project sponsor this whole time through. it is not as if they got their conditional use authorization back in 2005, never submitted a building permit, never did any work with the department, never tried to obtain authorization, just came in one day four years later and said here is the building permit. that is not what happened in this case. i think this is a unique circumstance because of the fact there has been an extensive amount of time devoted between all the parties to come to a resolution on the project, and that is where we are. for those reasons that we did determine the conditional use is still valid, allow the building permit, that is why we approved it. when it came to the issue about the notice of special restriction and noncompliance with that notice of special restrictions, we issued to stop
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work request. we also initiated enforcement case to get compliance with the notice of special restrictions and get those details and appreciate those. it is unfortunate we have to rely on members of the public to enforce these conditions of approval. it should be the private sponsor doing that right off. that is frustrating for the department, frustrating for the public. in the ideal world, the project sponsor would have done all of the work initially, but we have work to get the notice of special restrictions adhered to, and that is why we have allowed the project to go forward as it is, meeting the notice of special restrictions. that is all i have to say for that, and i am available for questions. >> in one of the explanations for the delay, it was said that was for the variance, because they were waiting for the code
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to change. >> the building code change, the 2007 building code, which i believe it was adopted in january, 2008, i think that resulted in the change of the exit in requirement. the variants itself is for the lot coverage and a lack of parking. vice president goh: and the height? >> the conditional use authorizes the height in the chinatown community district. there is conditional use for the height, variance for the parking, and also full lot project coverage if. that is because it is a unique lot, only 24 feet by 29 feet. it has special design considerations. i wish i had more details on why it took two years to get the
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variants issued -- variance issued. it was issued two years after. vice president goh: and why do you think that they included a three-year expiration for the conditional use? what is the reason? >> the planning code talks about expiration of conditional use within a reasonable amount of time. that is what the code says. that is the interpretation that a reasonable amount of time is three years. that has been our policy, it is reasonable, three years, and that has been adopted and the approval for the variance and conditional use is quantified as a reasonable amount of time. in looking at this and the project in the history and how we work with them to come to rlu


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